The staff in the Augmentative Communication classroom uses a tool that would, I think, be helpful in other settings. Participation Plans are sometimes developed to support a student's inclusion experiences, but can also be designed to increase language use and social skill practice in full time special education environments, at home and in the community. When a student needs help to develop social and language skills this tool can help the IEP team spend time talking about the what, when and how of creating those supports for development. The participation plan is designed by the IEP team and describes how goals will be practiced and supported. Participation plans become part of the IEP documents and can give future teams valuable insights about present levels of performance.
Here are a couple examples from my daughter's plan. Her goals are to increase her appropriate participation and use of natural language with familiar school personnel and typical peers:
Visiting the library
Greeting and entering
- With assistant, take books to librarian.
- Make eye contact (prompt as needed).
- Use switch to say: "I am returning my books."
- Show favorite book(s) to librarian by pointing to choices.
- Use switch to say, "I liked this book!"
- Select books with buddy by pointing to choice (out of three).
- Buddy reads book, sit in chair and listen, point to things of interest.
- With assistant, use eye gaze board comments page to make comments about book (Cool! Interesting! Funny! Boring!)
- Use switch to say "Please turn the page."
- Use switch to say "Thank you. Goodbye. See you next time" to buddy and librarian
Her participation plan has led to the following results:
- better behavior! More meaningful interactions- rather than being taken to the library, she is going and participating
- More staff at school know Emma and greet her by name in the halls and on the play ground.
- More typical peers know Emma, greet her and invite her to play on the play ground.
- Emma is more familiar with the school campus, and takes us places she knows, like the library, on her own initiative.
- Emma is beginning to use pro-social behaviors like greeting, making eye contact and listening in other environments.
The participation plan helped the staff change their expectations of Emma but also their understanding of the supports she would need to learn how to participate and their roles in creating and sustaining those supports.